And you thought the start of the regular season meant that young players were temporarily done signing extensions.
Not the case, as the Tampa Bay Rays proved early on Monday as they locked yet another young piece up on a long term deal. The Rays agreed to a new six-year contract with starter Chris Archer, after just one full season of big league experience. Archer clearly showed enough in that limited sample size to merit a longer term deal.
The new deal buys out the remainder of Archer’s arbitration years and one of his free agent years, with the potential for more when his options are taken into account. The six years add up to $25.5 million for Archer, with potential for the deal to surpass $43 million if his option years in 2020 and 2021 are picked up.
Originally a draft pick of the Cleveland Indians, Archer was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the North Side. He made four starts in 2012 before hitting the ground running in 2013, garnering plenty of attention as a Rookie of the Year candidate. He ended up finishing third in the voting, while fellow Ray (and likely next extension candidate) Wil Myers took home the hardware.
The 2013 season saw Archer make 23 starts, a limited amount thanks to a stretch of time midseason on the disabled list, and toss just over 128 innings overall. His walk rate was the lowest it’s been at any point in his career, at any level, at just 2.66 per nine innings. His strikeout rate was also a touch lower than we had all expected as well, but one would imagine that as he develops, he’ll use his slider and changeup more effectively to create more than the 7.06 punchouts he averaged per nine.
In addition to the strikeout and walk numbers, Archer went for a 3.22 ERA, which looks a little better than it should keeping in mind that his FIP was up over four. Nonetheless, that’s not a bad number at all for what was really his first time out. His groundball ways, in conjunction with a solid defense behind him, should help that ERA continue to stay down.
All in all, this looks like an excellent deal all around for the Rays. They lock up a pitcher who’s just 25 with big upside, for a very nice price. Those two options years could get a bit expensive for them, but through those arb years and that first free agent year, they could be getting Chris Archer at a bargain bin price.